LONDON – Rafael Nadal clinched year-end number one in the ATP Rankings for the third time in his career and also a spot in the semi-finals of the World Tour Finals when he beat Stanislas Wawrinka in straight sets on Wednesday afternoon.
The 27-year-old Spaniard previously finished at the top in 2008 and 2010, and becomes the first player to hold, lose and regain the year-end number ATP Ranking on two occasions. Roger Federer and Ivan Lendl each accomplished the
“Today, it was more important secure the number one at the end of the season,” said Nadal.
“[It is] one of the best things that I have done in my career – coming back to the No. 1 after three seasons. That’s very difficult in our sport… and the good thing is [that] after two matches now, I can really be focused only on the tournament because the year end is over.”
This is the 10th straight season that the year-end World number one ranking has been held by Nadal (2008, 20110, 2013), Federer (2004-07, 2009) or Novak Djokovic (2011-12).
Nadal, the 2010 runner-up at the season finale, improved to a 2-0 record in Group A with a 7-6(5), 7-6(6) victory over Wawrinka at The O2.
It extended his perfect FedEx ATP head-to-head record to 12-0 against the Swiss number two. Nadal has a 73-6 match record on the season, which includes 10 titles in 13 finals.
“I am in semi-finals. I am very far away from winning this title. Winning two matches already is a very positive thing for me,” Nadal said. “But, seriously, even if I am in semi-finals, on this surface, I am not the favourite. I know that. But I am going to try. We’ll see if that happens.”
Nadal broke Wawrinka in the fifth game and came within one point of a 5-2 lead. Wawrinka could not convert two break point opportunities at 3-4 in an 11-minute game. At 5-4, Nadal led 30-15 only to see Wawrinka stage a fight back.
In the tie-break, Nadal was on the back foot at 5-5 but he scrambled back a deep lob, off a Wawrinka forehand, to regain control of the rally. Wawrinka over-hit a backhand wide. On set point, Wawrinka appeared to lose his footing at the net and Nadal struck a mid-court forehand into space.
Nadal improved to 26-0 in sets against Wawrinka. The match lasted two hours and 12 minutes. Nadal applauded Wawrinka off the court. (ATP)